Lockdown Library #1: The Camper Van Bible


One of the curious consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown is that all of a sudden lots of people have popped up on my social media timelines saying they have more time than they know what to do with.

And while I won’t exactly be building a scale model of St. Paul’s Cathedral out of matchsticks, I also seem to have a bit more time on my hands.

With all this new-found freedom from punching the proverbial clock, I’ve been revisiting my library of automobile-related books. I’m an utter bibliophile (and whatever the magazine equivalent is) but never seem to have the time to sit down and enjoy the books I buy. It’s difficult spinning the plates of work, marriage, parenthood, a side hustle, other hobbies and the general day-to-day grind – all of which take precedence over sticking my nose into a book.

So, during this strange period of social distancing, I thought I’d share some of my recommendations for books that may be of interest to petrolheads with time to kill. I call it The Lockdown Library.

The first book on the list – purely because it arrived yesterday so it’s literally sitting right next to me – is The Camper Van Bible by Martin Dorey.

The book pitches itself as ‘…the definitive glovebox bible for anyone who owns or ‘would die for’ a camper van’. Having never owned anything bigger than a family hatchback, I definitely fall into the latter category – although I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’d die for one. That surely kind of defeats the point, unless you’re in the market for a very expensive yet very comfortable hearse.

Facetiousness aside, I bought this book to give me a bit of an insight into camper van life. With a young and growing family, I want to be able to create as many memories for the little ’uns to cherish as I can, and the thought of buggering off on family adventures every weekend is a pull that’s hard to resist.

Plus – and it gives me no pleasure to say this – I am notoriously awful at buying cars. Trust me, I’ve bought some proper lemons and I don’t want to make the same mistake for the 78th time.

The book is a weighty old tome at 448 pages, but Martin has a very knowledgeable-bloke-down-the-pub style that makes for easy and enjoyable reading. The ‘Buying a camper van’ sections, in particular, have been a mine of information, offering plenty of battle-hardened, common sense advice to help newbies like myself to decide what they need, rather than what they want.

There are also sections on happy and successful camping, getting a decent night’s kip, recommended campsites in the UK, health and safety advice and more camping-friendly recipes than I knew existed. Seriously, this book will be as welcome to foodies as it is to petrolheads.

As you’ll no doubt have gathered, I’m completely new to the camper van game and pretty inexperienced in camping full stop – I spent the odd pissed-up night in a tent in my youth, but that’s about as far as it ever went. But even after a short time with this book (it’s a pretty quick read), I feel I’ve learnt a lot about the pleasures and pitfalls of the camper van lifestyle. 

Enough, I hope, to help me to avoid adding yet another lemon to the list.

The Camper Van Bible is available at all good bookshops, although as none of us is allowed outside the house at the moment, here’s an Amazon link and one from Wordery if Amazon leaves a nasty taste in your mouth.

To find out more about the author, visit his website. You can also catch the author in action in the BBC’s One Man and His Campervan. The full series is on YouTube, starting here.

Also, just for the record, I have no link with the author, publisher, sellers or anyone else for that matter. There is no financial inducement involved or backhanders going on, I paid for the book with my own pocket money and won’t receive anything in return for my recommendation.